GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Andy Rautins hoped to celebrate his 24th birthday Tuesday night by playing against the Orlando Magic at Madison Square Garden and then going out with friends and family.
Instead, the contest was postponed when asbestos-related material fell during maintenance work. Garden officials have since announced that the Knicks will host the Washington Wizards on Friday as scheduled.
With no game to play Tuesday, Rautins had the night clear to enjoy a birthday dinner with his stepmother, fellow rookie Landry Fields and other friends.
"I would much rather have played a game and got to feel the crowd experience for the Magic game," the 6-foot-4 Rautins said Wednesday after practice. "You know it's going to be a big draw. But it was a nice night also."
Rautins' transition from college standout to NBA rookie hasn't been the smoothest, but he's adjusting to his new life in stride.
Rautins averaged 12.1 points and shot 41 percent from behind the arc (98 of 241) last season at Syracuse and was selected 38th overall by the Knicks -- ahead of Fields, who was chosen at No. 39, and hometown product Lance Stephenson (No. 40).
Fields has started the Knicks first three games at shooting guard. Rautins has yet to play a single minute in a regular-season game. He averaged 3.2 points during six preseason games, looking overmatched and out of rhythm at times.
A shooting guard under Jim Boeheim at Syracuse, Rautins is attempting to make the transition to point guard for the Knicks, who already have Raymond Felton as the starter and second-year guard Toney Douglas as a backup.
"He can do it," Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said. "It's just a matter of reading a little bit better and getting his game. And then finding opportunities to play. Sometimes you come on a team and it's not what you're not doing, it's other guys are ahead of him."
Said Rautins: "It's a little bit of a transition period, but it's nothing that you can't fight through. I'm working my tail off every day. Obviously, making that transition from the two to the one. And just trying to be used wherever they need me, be a role player and get out there and knock down shots."
Rautins said Felton and fellow veteran Roger Mason "have been showing me the ropes. Every day they've been teaching me things and ways to be efficient and ways to get myself on the court."
The way Felton sees it, Rautins needs to get stronger in order to handle the rigors of the point guard position.
"To be a point guard you've got to be strong-minded, you've got to be mentally tough," Felton said. "He's got to get stronger. He's coming straight out of college and he's got to get used to this banging part of the NBA. It's tough. You've got to be able to take that bump and still control the ball.
"But other than that, he deserves to be in the NBA."
Rautins also consults with his father, Leo, the 17th overall pick of the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1983 NBA Draft and now a color analyst with the Toronto Raptors.
"He just says, 'You've got to keep working every day,'" Andy Rautins said. "'You have one of the best jobs in the world. You're not getting your minutes, you work hard and it's going to come to you.'"